Doc’s Blog

Glucosamine and Equine Joint Health

Notwithstanding that here is conflicting evidence regarding the use of glucosamine for the management of osteoarthritis in any species; glucosamine is a common ingredient in oral joint health supplements that are widely administered to horses with osteoarthritis. Their continued and successful use is a testimony to their effectiveness.

In a recent Canadian study by Laverty and colleagues, researchers compared the pharmacologic properties of two different forms of glucosamine--hydrochloride and sulfate. Test horses were administered clinically relevant doses of glucosamine hydrochloride or glucosamine sulfate (20 mg/kg) via nasogastric intubation.

At one and six hours after administration, they found significantly higher levels of glucosamine in synovial fluid samples from horses receiving the oral glucosamine sulfate than in those receiving glucosamine hydrochloride.

Laverty pointed out that it is not clear whether these differences in synovial fluid levels will have a real, clinical impact on horses with osteoarthritis.  Further research is required.

Learn more:

Equine Dehydration

Dehydration in horses may be caused by an imbalance of the primary electrolyte ions: sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium.  Heavy training, hot weather and decreased consumption or availability of water may also contribute to the problem.

Signs of dehydration may include tying-up, muscle cramping, anhidrosis, Synchronous Diaphragmatic Flutter (thumps) or diarrhea.

Here is a quick and simple way to check for dehydration.  Do a "pinch test" on the skin of the neck. Gently pinch, between thumb and forefinger, skin on the horse’s neck and pull away from the body. When released, the skin should immediately return to its original position. Failure to do so is an indication of dehydration.

IONS™ Organic, produced by Advanced Biological Concepts, is an excellent source of the ions needed to avoid dehydration.

Check it out at:

A Unique Oral Vaccine

       In the wake of a devastating epidemic of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) a couple of years ago, swine producers are now successfully using a not so new technique to build immunity in their herds.  They are deliberately exposing swine to the virus by adding the remains of infected baby pigs to the feed. 


      While distasteful to some, this mild exposure of the healthy animals results in a specific, long lasting immunity and is actually a pretty good way to stimulate immunity and lower the risk of future outbreaks.

       Many view this practice as new and innovative but the concept is based on the principle that exposure builds immunity - an idea originally promulgated in the 1800’s by early scientists such as Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch and Rudolf Virchow.

Cattle Calls

I read where a couple of scientists at the University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University of London have recorded proof that cows and calves actually ‘talk’ to each other, thus exploding the myth that they are "dumb" animals lacking consciousness or feelings.

Using highly-sensitive audio equipment, extensive recordings were made of the vocalizations of cows and calves. Analysis of the data took a year to complete.

Dr. Monica Padilla de la Torre, who led the research, summarized the findings thusly; ”The research shows for the first time that mother-offspring cattle 'calls' are individualized -- each calf and cow have a characteristic and exclusive call of their own.  Calves calling out to their mothers had three types of calls that were individualized, enabling mother cows to identify which calf was calling.”

I’m all for valid research that sheds light on the world we live in, but, in this instance, I take exception to the statement — research shows for the first time that mother-offspring cattle 'calls' are individualized

cow calf

In the late 1930’s. My Uncle Gustave taught me that same basic concept by pointing out how each calf would easily pair up with its dam.  I’m guessing that this knowledge was also available to ancient herdsman soon after cattle were first domesticated over 8000 years ago.  Any observant person that works with animals - livestock, horses, pets - will soon realize they are sentient beings.

I’m also curios to know how much this research cost.